Updated: Saturday, 18th November 2017 @ 8:06am

Hedgehog Inspector: Heaton Park assign new position ahead of Bonfire Night

Hedgehog Inspector: Heaton Park assign new position ahead of Bonfire Night

By Will Unwin, David Ingham, Katie Rowland and Elaine O'Flynn

Hedgehogs in Heaton Park have nothing to fear this Bonfire Night, as Manchester City Council has assigned them their own protector.

In preparation for November 5, the council have designated an officer whose job it is to check the bonfire for hidden hedgehogs and local wildlife.

Event Control Officer Peter Davenport explained that the council are doing all they can to make sure that the event runs smoothly for spectators and local wildlife.

He also said that by holding the event they are reducing the number of home-made bonfires, protecting children and wildlife that could potentially be at risk.

 “We’ve had feedback from the fire and ambulance services saying that they’ve noticed fewer incidents being reported, thanks to the fact that we provide a safe environment for up to 40,000 people”, Mr Davenport said.

“It makes sense as we all know that hedgehogs love bonfires!”

With fewer places for hedgehogs to sleep and their numbers rapidly declining, the risk to hedgehogs is greater than ever.

The Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society Fay Vass applauded Manchester’s safety efforts. She says that Bonfire Night is a particularly dangerous time for hedgehogs.

She said: “When hedgehogs are roaming around looking for a nice place to hibernate, a bonfire looks like a 5* hotel.”

Heaton Park is one of nine official organised events taking place, and Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure hopes that people will enjoy themselves safely and without the fear of harming Manchester’s wildlife.

He said: “We want people to enjoy Bonfire Night in a safe environment and the best way to do that is at an organised display.”

For those people holding their own bonfires, the RSPCA has some simple advice on how to minimise harm to hedgehogs:

o   Build the bonfire elsewhere and then move it at a later date.

o   Put up a hedgehog-proof fence around the bonfire

o   Build the bonfire on broom handles so that it can be lifted and checked underneath

o   Poke the bonfire and then look and listen.  Hedgehogs will make a noise when disturbed.

o   Light the bonfire from one side so that any hedgehogs that are inside have time to get out

For more information about organised bonfires and firework displays, see www.manchester.gov.uk.